Blog post

Announcing the Giving What We Can Global Poverty Essay Competition ($2000 in prize money): ‘Where should we donate to do the most good?’

3 min read
27 May 2015

About Giving What We Can:

Giving What We Can is a global community of people committed to giving part of our income in the most effective way possible in order to fight global poverty. We evaluate global poverty charities and encourage our members to give to the most effective ones. Our members come from all walks of life and all pledge to give at least 10% of their income to the most effective charities (students pledge to give 1% while they are studying). If enough people do this, we can eliminate extreme poverty within this lifetime.

Giving What We Can has also established student chapters in the UK, the US, Switzerland and Australia. You can join the nearest chapter (or help to set one up) to meet like-minded people and to support each other in giving.

Giving What We Can - Essay competition

How can we help others most effectively? Which organisation should we donate our money to, in order to do the most good for the global poor? What is the most effective, scalable, evidence-based, but currently underfunded global poverty/health intervention that is already being implemented or could be implemented soon?

Your essay should address a question of this kind. You can see some examples of such research here.

The essay might clarify the following issues:

  1. Intervention scale: What is the scale of the problem?


For health interventions, this could be quantified in terms of the global burden of disease in disability adjusted life years (DALYs). For other interventions, such as educational interventions or cash transfers, other ways of quantification are possible. As a general orientation you might find the data from the Global Burden of Disease study useful, which you can visualize here.

  1. What is the cost-effectiveness analysis of the intervention (USD per DALY averted)?


For information on this, see:


  • Is there an organisation that is currently doing this intervention work and could use our donations?
  • Is there room for more funding in this area which would mean that additional donations to this intervention have high impact? Or is this area currently already sufficiently funded, so that the marginal impact of our donation would be low?
  • For a pointer see Givewell’s page on this.

Evidence base / Tractability:

How strong is the evidence that this intervention is or will be effective? Is it a feasible intervention that could realistically be implemented soon or are there strong barriers to this intervention being implemented (e.g. cultural, political, technological barriers)?

Word limit

900 words excluding references.


| 1st Prize: | $1,000 | | 2nd Prize: | $500 | | 3rd Prize: | $250 | | 4th Prize: | $50 | | 5th Prize: | $50 | | Prize 6-12: | Book prize: Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference |

Eligibility Criteria:

You must be a student enrolled at a school or university to enter this competition. Current and former employees and interns of the Centre for Effective Altruism and their family members and friends are excluded from this competition.

By submitting an essay you agree for the essay and your name to be published on the Giving What We Can blog. The deadline for submission is 31st August 2015 (11:59pm).


Please send your submission (including contact details) in PDF format with the subject line: ‘Essay Competition - [ESSAY SUBJECT]’ to Hauke Hillebrandt at


If you have any questions, you can post them in the comment section below, or email